Saturday, October 20, 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

The whole quote

God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him, in the midst of loss, not prosperity.

-John Piper

He that has ears to hear, let him hear

If you haven't heard Joost Nixon's, 'Bleeding Heart Calvinism' you need to. I promise it will be worth every bit of your 4 minutes.

He that has ears to hear, let him hear here.

Raising Spiritual Warriors

One time I called one of my sons who was a freshman in his dorm and I asked him, 'How are you doing with sexual purity?' He said, 'Dad, I'll call you back.' And what had happened was that on the floor of his freshman dorm, he walked down the hall and said, 'What's goin on?' And a really attractive young woman said, 'Depends on what you want. Do you want to get drunk, do you want to get stoned, or do you want to blankety-blank?' And see, she was ready for all three, he said. All she needed was a time and a place and she'd be there with me. And see, a Christian kid dissolves and falls apart with that. There's only one kind of person who will survive, not a good church-goer, not a Christian kid - only a soldier will be able to stand that kind of a battle. I said, 'What did you do?' He said, 'I did what you did. I did what Joseph did. I walked away. And I'm calling you now for accountability because, dad, she was good lookin. And I don't want to nurse this, I don't want to think about it. I want to confess it to you then ask me about it next week. I don't want to go there.'

- Phil Downer, author of A Father's Reward

Straight from the horse's mouth

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Theological Litmus Testing

One of the things you can do if you are dubious about a restaurant is to simply walk in and take a look at one of their restrooms. Depending on the conditions there, you can go on to look at other things -- the menu, the prices, the service, etc. But an appalling restroom ought to be a deal-breaker. Using a similar approach, take a grand tour of all the Reformed seminaries in the United States. Do not sit in on classes, or visit the bookstore, or examine the curriculum, at least not first. Just make sure you hit the chapel service. Sit there and ask yourself if you want this to be the future of the Reformed world. Are they singing "Jesus is my boyfriend" music? Is the worship inane? Is the message God-honoring? Is the overall demeanor breezy and casual, with shorts and flip-flops abounding? Is this what "reverence and godly awe" mean to them?

-Doug Wilson [from Blog and Mablog]

Haven't you always suspected...?

To save you some time - I could beat around the bush and make it sound a little bit nicer - but to be honest with you, most people who talk about the permissive will of God are fudging. They're having a real difficulty understanding the full strength of God's sovereignty. And so they try to soften it by saying, 'Well God, in some cases, permits things to happen.' Well stop and think about it. If God permits things to happen, that is, He's not behind them, He hasn't planned them or purposed them, then why are they happening that way? It's like there's some inherent tendency or direction in the course of history and God says, 'Well, I'm just not going to touch that. I'll stand back and let that happen.' No, that isn't true. He works all things after the counsel of His own will. So there is no permissive will of God.

-Greg Bahnsen in the lecture on providence from his systematic theology course

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

An Honest Answer is like a Kiss on the Lips

"... in pastoral counseling I am doing no favors to anyone by sugar-coating what the Bible teaches about sin. This is for the simple reason that sin destroys. Sin is what you are dealing with -- it is not what you get to redefine... in this instance, as with all sin, acceptance is not love, but rather the opposite."

-Doug Wilson blog-commenting on Brian McLaren's request to have 5 or 10 years moratorium on decisions regarding the issue of homosexuality and pastoral counseling.

Friday, October 5, 2007

What does faith look like in a 2 year old?

I was recently telling my 2 year old the story of Moses and the burning bush. This is how it ended:

Gabe: Daddy, was Moses good?
Me: Yes. Moses walked with God and he was a good guy.
Gabe: I want to walk with God ... and I want to walk with giraffes.

My Spidey Sense is Tingling

Where women have their 'intuition', men have their 'gut'. Mine has been wrong on several BIG occasions, but it remains with me and I do pay attention, especially if more red flags are flying than when Rocky fought that big soviet guy.


Every professing Christian gets the benefit of the doubt with me - it's automatic. I will give anyone a hearing if they come in the name of my risen Lord, it will be a Berean hearing, but it will be kindly granted every time. Having said that, and taken the time to consider things, here it is:

I'm always suspicious of best-selling authors, pastors and fully-booked conference speakers whose whole message revolves around the inadequacy of words. For people who distrust words, emergent guys sure seem to have a lot to say. How is it possible to diminish the role of words and still retain the substance from a 'faith of the Book'?

Though a passionate advocate of liturgy, participation in worship, story and narrative, relationships and community, leaving behind the failures of fundamentalism, resisting the errors within modernity and gnosticism, the importance of body, mind and spirit engaging in worship and devotion to God, living as a Christian 'at all times' [to be read in Rex-Kwan-Do voice], spiritual authenticity and hardcore realism, engaging the culture head on, radically bringing the gospel, rethinking life in terms of fundamentals, presuppositions and worldviews, huh [take a breath] ... I remain humbly critical of the Emergent Movement and strongly suspect it to be doing more harm than good.

I think I can understand why it's so appealing. People realize that they don't have much of a basis to their faith, and instead of looking to the old paths, they're taking the cylindrical glass elevator of postmodernity to higher ground [renouncing with disdain the stainless steel box version of modernity].

For the totally negative thumbnail evaluation [think of the previous paragraphs as noting the positive traits]: It seems to be largely based on a therapeutic model [see David Wells] and certainly can't be described as God-centered. It's highly effemeral and emotionalistic. It's an anti-institutionality institution and as such, Tim Keller predicts, can't last long without fundamental alteration. It caters to the cyber-oriented young urban professionals who live such artificial lives, they hunger to bleed just to know they're alive [as one of their own poets has said].

Emergent techniques would do little but alienate every farmer, plumber, truck driver and dock loader around and just about everyone else from any background who's older than his mid thirties. We'd end up with quite a lopsided 'church'; giving birth to a deformed body. Journaling, reflecting, emoting, venting, insence, lattes, 'feeling' each other - these things are fine, but holding fast the faithful word of truth requires a bit more beef.

To long for authenticity is crucial. Trying to grab authenticity from the fog of postmodernity, though, will not result in much to pocket [I admit from experience] even if the fog comes wafting down from the cathedral rafters.

John Piper on the Emergent Church

My root sense is at the bottom [the emergent movement's guiding principle is] - commited relationships trump truth. ...

I don't understand the way these guys think. There are profound epistemological differences - ways of processing reality. I can't make definitive statements about what they believe about almost anything, except a few strong statements about certain social agendas where they would clearly come out of their chair on the hatred of human trafficing or something like that. But as far as doctrinal issues I can't tell because as I pushed on them, I could tell, 'That's not what we do here. We don't try to get agreement on the nature of the atonement. That is alienating to friendships so we don't do that.'

Galations 1 - 'If I or an angel from heaven brings you a gospel other than the one I gave you, let him be accursed.' That's just no friendship. So it seems like Paul is putting the gospel down as whether there is a good relationship or not. ...

That's what's so mindboggling to me - when I read some of the emergent main leaders, they talk about how Jesus has been domesticated by the church and they want to recover 'the radical Jesus'. In my judgment, the Jesus they're recovering is NOT radical. There's not a radical Jesus without Hell. There simply is no radical Jesus. Everything becomes milk toast without the wrath of God. He came into the world to rescue us from the most horrid thing.

Once you get that straight, then having your head chopped off is minor, it's minor. Because - don't fear those who can kill the body and after that have nothing more they can do. I mean, who talks like that today in America?! Fear the One who can kill both soul and body in Hell. If you strip that away from Jesus, He's just a local guy; He's no big deal. I don't see how they can talk about, 'We're gettin' the radical Jesus back.' You've lost Him. He's just gone without His radical call, "I'm here to rescue you from Perdition and you'll all have to die on the way to Heaven. Through many tribulations you must enter the kingdom."

-John Piper [in Conversations with the Pastors from Desiring God Conference 2006]